Posted on January 21, 2020 by Charles F. Becker
I’ve known Drew Tierney since I was 10. I’d call him a friend, but he’d find a way to argue about it. You know the type, they live to disagree – you desperately want to prove them wrong, but it never happens.
DT (as his friends call him) and I met for lunch last week. He was in fine form and clearly ready for a fight. We ordered a beer and food and started watching a game.
DT: “So, it’s a good thing we finally got that Soleimani dude, right?”
DT is one of those people that put “right” at the end of every sentence so that you have to agree or become bait. I wasn’t in the mood.
Me: “I suppose, but we’ll just have to see where it goes.”
That seemed to satisfy him as he took a bite out of his chicken sandwich, then said:
“Does it really count as an impeachment if nothing is sent over to the Senate? That wouldn’t be fair, right?”
I chomped down hard on a piece of celery causing a neighboring table to stop talking for a moment. But I bit my tongue at the same time.
Me: “I’ll leave that one to the scholars.”
I could see DT process my comment and he apparently decided that yet another impeachment debate wasn’t worth the effort. He took another bite and said:
“It’s a real shame that the Dems can’t get their act together on that climate change thingy.”
He kind of spit out the word “thingy.” He knew that would do it . . . and it did.
Me: “Climate change thingy? Are you kidding me? Climate change is a disaster, and everyone knows it!”
DT: “Really? Everyone?”
Finally! One I could win. I knew this stuff.
Me: “Do you know that 69% of all Americans believe that we need to take aggressive action to fight climate change? And that includes 56% of Republicans and 71% of independents. That’s pretty impressive.”
DT: “Yeah, but 43% say they wouldn’t pay a dime to deal with climate change. And only 28% overall would be willing to pay even an extra $10 a month to help. That’s $120 a year! That means about two-thirds of your support will talk the talk but won’t walk the walk.
Me: “Well, OK, but from 2014 to 2019, the people who saw climate change as an actual crisis went from 23% to 38%. That means more than one-third of the country see it as critical.”
DT: “But for Republicans, it started out at 12% and stayed at 12%. Not what I’d call a burning issue, is it? In fact, the polls of all the voters in 2012, 2016, and 2019 show that of the top issues for voters, climate change has always ranked right near the bottom.”
Me: “That’s because Republicans skew the results!”
I had him.
Surprisingly, DT seemed unpersuaded.
DT: “I don’t think that word means what you think it means. I think you mean to say Republicans participated in the results. There are as many Republicans as Democrats. The problem is you keep forgetting that. “
Me: “I can’t help it if 88% of them can’t read.”
DT: “Let me suggest that telling Republicans they’re illiterate doesn’t seem to be a particularly persuasive argument, right?”
This wasn’t going exactly as I planned.
DT: “Whether you like it or not, the difference in the parties’ view on climate change has the biggest gap of any of the priority issues — there’s a 46% difference between the parties in how important climate change is to the country. Heck, Trump shut down the government over a border wall and the difference between the parties on immigration is a measly 28%. You’re not going to close the gap by pounding your fist and saying ‘you just don’t get it’ to the people whose vote you need.”
Me: “But DT, it doesn’t matter what the difference is . . . what about our children?”
DT stopped eating, looked at me, and sighed.
DT: “Well, there it is. The ‘you’re-killing-our-children’ argument. The last bastion of the self-righteous. But you know what, I’ll give you that argument. You’re right, we might be killing our children, but all you’ve succeeded in doing is to make both parties dig in deeper. The problem is you believe that climate change is a moral issue. Maybe it was at one time, but not anymore. You know that whatever the solution is going to be, it will have to be instigated by the federal government. You keep telling me it’s going to cost billions of dollars and will go on for decades. It seems to me that makes it, by definition, a problem for Congress. Like it or not, you’ve made it political, right? And once you make it a political problem, in this day, good luck.”
That really was a show stopper. DT was right about it being a money issue. And at this scale, it was going to have to be done by Congress, so clearly it was political. In years past, maybe some sort of middle ground was possible, but not today – or tomorrow. So does DT win again?
But then I saw it. I realized DT wasn’t really a bad person, he was just a good arguer. And he was a good arguer because he always forced you to argue in his ballpark. The real problem was we were just in the wrong stadium.
Me: “OK DT, you’re right. The costs are really big. I doubt that we’ll ever agree on a solution, so it’s not worth arguing about.”
DT was puzzled for a moment, but he seemed satisfied. We ordered another beer and continued to watch the game.
Me: “By the way, how’s your daughter doing at Southeastern?”
DT: “Don’t get me started. The cost of that place is killing me.”
Me: “I hear ya. I’ve got the same problem. I’m just happy the investments are working out.”
Next to politics, DT’s favorite topic is money and he’s nothing if not a creature of habit – thankfully.
DT: “Really? What’s working for you?”
Me: “I put a lot into Sunkist Dynamics a few years ago. They’ve been going nuts!”
DT: “What do they do?”
Me: “Solar panels, and they’re American made. It’s sort of like buying Exxon at $5 a share.”
DT: “So, there’s really money there?”
Me: “Ohhh, yeah.” And I added an eye roll that implied that you were an idiot if you weren’t already on this gravy train. DT looked around, leaned over and sort of whispered to me:
“You think I can I get in?”
Me: “Oh, no. Sorry DT, it was a private placement deal.” I took a sip of beer and let that sink in for a moment. “But I do know about a group of investors that are going to fund a wind farm. The possibilities are huge. Think about it – you make money whenever the wind blows.”
I saw DT stop for a moment and sort of gaze into the distance. He was calculating how much money he might make when the primary input was free.
DT: “That sounds like a pretty good buy . . . right?”
Me: “Well, it’s up to you. Just don’t tell a lot of people – I want to keep this between us.”
DT: “Not a problem – I get it – too many cooks kind of thing.” He ran his two fingers across his lips and added: “Zipped tight.”
Then a minor miracle happened:
DT: “By the way, lunch is on me today.”
I ordered dessert.
Tags: political argument, polls, paying for environment, climate change